Martinique: Paradise in the French Antilles

Martinique 047I leave tomorrow for five weeks in Martinique, where I’ll be cooking for a group of students. My brother is a professor of archaeology at the University of South Carolina and is leading a dig there. Here’s a picture from my previous cooking gig there in 2005.

Memories of black sand beaches, white sand beaches, rum, coconut sorbet, snorkeling, poulet colombo (creole chicken curry), daily baguettes, and swaying palms lure me back to this lush volcanic island. I’ll post updates when I can, so I hope you’ll check in occasionally.

Also, if you listen to NPR’s “Weekend Edition Sunday,” you may hear me! They are doing a segment on listeners’ summer vacations, and plan to call me in Martinique for a brief interview while I’m there.

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A Truly Divine Pastry — Paris, September 2007

DSCN3639DSCN3640Here is my only record of possibly the best pastry of my entire life. Because they wrapped it so beautifully, I took a picture of the exquisite little package before tearing into it, and thus documented the name of the establishment: Y. Chantrelle, Patissier – Chocolatier, Paris 12eme. It was on a corner, it was packed with hungry fans, and the window display was delicious to behold.

The sublime pastry is the fig-topped one on the left. Layers of moist, dense, chewy coconut cake cradle mango mousse, topped with a passion fruit glaze. The name, Arawak, reflects its tropical inspiration. We ordered the Arawak and its brother pastry (topped with rhubarb mousse, it was also quite delicious) and carried them across the street to a sidewalk table at a cafe, where we ordered two coffees, unwrapped the jewels, and savored them with our tiny coffee spoons.

A Truly Beautiful Pastry — Paris, September 2007

DSCN3665Could there be a more princessy pastry than this? Look–it even matches the china! I was invited to this tres charmant, elegant, old-world tea house by my family friend Jeanne, who lives in a very stylish apartment with a view of the Eiffel Tower. The interior is all heavy drapes and gilt columns and marble-topped tables. One can easily imagine stylish big-hatted ladies meeting here for coffee and gossip a century ago. Founded in 1862, Ladurée is celebrated for its French-style macarons, but I preferred my choice.

 It is a double-decker cream-puff, filled with a rose custard and raspberries. The pastry was as delicious as the atmosphere and the company. Thank you, Jeanne.